During the 58th Munich Security Conference (MSC 2022) held from February 18 to 20 in Munich, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, made pertinent comments about Lebanon, its critical political and economic situation, and its requests for international support.
Prince Faisal issued that Lebanon must offer more reforms to secure financial support from the international community as it struggles with a deep financial crisis.
“Lebanon first needs to be actively saving itself…,” he stressed, “We need a stronger signal from the Lebanese body politic that they are going to step up.”
He noted that the reforms should first include stabilizing the economy and addressing issues of corruption and mismanagement, as well as “regional interference and loss of state sovereignty. With that, he implied Iran interference via its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.
Commenting on technical and economic support, including developmental aid, the Saudi Foreign Minister issued, “If there is a true initiative to reform the economic structure, reform the governance structure, reform the way the economy is managed, then I think you can call on the regional states to offer all kinds of support.”
He indicated that a short-term solution will not help the country, which went into a financial meltdown starting in 2019 as a result of a huge public debt that has submerged about half of the Lebanese population into severe multi-dimensional poverty.
That “financial meltdown” and its consequences have further worsened by the Arab Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, taking a stand last year against Lebanon, and cutting trade and diplomatic ties.
Their decision was triggered by the comments of former Minister George Kordahi yet was in fact the result of their growing discontent with the Iran-backed militia in Lebanon and its strong political clasp on the Lebanese government.
The stern decision of these Arab states to boycott Lebanon, meant to pressure the government, has come at a great price for the Lebanese economy, adding to the hardships of the people.